Inside ASP.NET Web Matrix


Nov 4, 2013 (4 years and 8 months ago)


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Inside ASP.NET
Web Matrix
Alex Homer and Dave Sussman
Part 1 – What is Web Matrix?
Part 2 – Putting Web Matrix to Work
Part 3 – Configuring and Extending
Web Matrix
Inside ASP.NET Web Matrix
Alex Homer
Dave Sussman
Wrox Press Ltd. 
© 2002 Wrox Press
Permission is granted to redistribute this document in its complete, original form. All other rights are reserved.
The author and publisher have made every effort during the preparation of this book to ensure accuracy of the material.
However, the information contained in this book is sold without warranty, either express or implied. Neither the authors, Wrox
Press, nor its dealers or distributors will be held liable for any damages caused or alleged to have been caused either directly or
indirectly by this book.
Published by Wrox Press Ltd,
Arden House, 1102 Warwick Road, Acocks Green,
Birmingham, B27 6BH, UK
Trademark Acknowledgements
Wrox has endeavored to adhere to trademark conventions for all companies and products mentioned in this book, such as the
appropriate use of capitalization. Wrox cannot however guarantee the accuracy of this information.
Authors Managing Editor
Alex Homer Viv Emery
Dave Sussman
Production Coordinator &
Commissioning Editor Cover
Daniel Kent Natalie O'Donnell
Technical Editor
Daniel Richardson
About the Authors
Alex Homer is a computer geek and Web developer with a passion for ASP.NET. Although he has to spend some time doing real
work (a bit of consultancy and training, and the occasional conference session), most of his days are absorbed in playing with the
latest Microsoft Web technology and then writing about it. Living in the picturesque wilderness of the Derbyshire Dales in
England, he is well away from the demands of the real world – with only an Internet connection to maintain some distant
representation of normality. But, hey, what else could you want from life?
You can contact Alex through his own software company, Stonebroom Limited:
Dave Sussman is a hacker in the traditional sense of the word. That's someone who likes playing with code and working out how
things work, which is why he spends much of his life working with beta software. Luckily this coincides with writing about new
technologies, giving him an output for his poor English and grammar. He lives in a small village in the Oxfordshire countryside.
Like many programmers everywhere he has an expensive hi-fi, a big TV and no life.
You can contact Dave through his own company, Ipona Limited:
Inside ASP.NET Web Matrix
During its relatively short but spectacularly successful life, Microsoft® Active Server Pages
(ASP) has grown from a simple scripting environment for creating dynamic Web pages into a
powerful and easy-to-use platform for fully-fledged Web application development. In its latest
incarnation, ASP.NET, it provides a complete solution for building almost any type of
interactive user interface, as well as for implementing extensive back-end processing operations.
However, despite the many powerful features of ASP, choosing a comprehensive and usable
development environment in which to create ASP applications was never easy. Many third
parties provide ASP support in their products, for example HomeSite and Macromedia
UltraDev (among others) support ASP 3.0, and, of course, Microsoft's own Visual Studio 6.0
included InterDev – which was also available as a standalone product.
With the advent of .NET, support for ASP.NET development has been fully integrated into
Visual Studio .NET. It provides an extremely powerful and usable environment for ASP.NET
development in the guise of Web Forms, as well as the more traditional types of application
(Windows Forms). And now Visual Studio .NET is joined by another Microsoft product, namely
the Microsoft ASP.NET Web Matrix Project (referred to from here on in as "Web Matrix").
At the time of writing, Web Matrix has just been released as a Beta 1 product. The whole nature
of the Microsoft ASP.NET Web Matrix project is that it will develop and grow based on
feedback from the community that uses it, so the feature set will evolve over time. You should
also keep in mind that, as this is a Beta product, there are quite a few features that are not yet
fully implemented (so some things you may expect to see are missing).
However, even at this stage Web Matrix is an extremely usable and efficient tool, and certainly
well worth installing and experimenting with. In time, it will, without doubt, mature and be
extended to provide many more of the features required for building Web sites and Web
applications using ASP.NET.
Over three sections this document will explore what Web Matrix is, what it can do, and how
you can use it:

Part 1  What is Web Matrix? provides an overview of Web Matrix, looks at the features
it provides, and the IDE it contains

Part 2  Putting Web Matrix to Work walks you through using Web Matrix to build an
application that contains many different types of pages and resources

Part 3  Configuring and Extending Web Matrix demonstrates how Web Matrix can be
configured to suit your individual requirements, and extended by installing your own or
third-party add-ins
Part 1 – What is Web Matrix?
From first impressions, you may think that Web Matrix is just a simplified development
environment for building ASP.NET applications. In fact, it provides much more than this. As
well as ASP.NET pages (including mobile device pages), Web Matrix can be used to create user
controls and class files (for compiling into assemblies), Web service files, and even HTTP
Handlers. It also provides integrated support for creating and editing HTML pages, style sheets,
XML schemas and documents, text files and SQL scripts, and .NET configuration files (such as
web.config and global.asax).
Web Matrix also provides powerful wizards that automate much of the process of creating pages
that handle data, pages that use output caching, and pages that use the built-in ASP.NET
authentication features. It also comes complete with its own web server, and other useful add-
ins. You can even create and install your own add-ins if you wish.
Why Use Web Matrix Instead of Visual Studio .NET?
Before we look in detail at Web Matrix, it's worth exploring the differences between it and
Visual Studio .NET. After all, why should Microsoft provide two different development
environments for ASP.NET? The answer is that they complement each other – they target
different types of development.
Visual Studio .NET is an excellent team development environment, which – when integrated
with a source file control system such as Visual SourceSafe – provides for the safe and
consistent management of project files when a team of people are working on a project.
One big difference between Web Matrix and Visual Studio .NET is that the latter insists on
creating ASP.NET projects using the code-behind technique, rather than inline code. Many
traditional ASP developers are used to including the presentation content (such as HTML, text,
etc.) in the same file as the ASP code that creates and manages the dynamic interface content.
Whether this is a good idea depends on how you (and your team) actually develop applications.
If you employ graphical designers to build the visual parts of pages, and then employ other,
more technically oriented programmers to build the code, you may prefer to have separate files
for these two sections of the interface.
However, you might prefer to include both code and visual content in the same inline page,
perhaps to avoid the added complexity of having to compile the code-behind file and then
inherit from it in the visual interface page (even though Visual Studio .NET does this for you).
Developing in this way, until Web Matrix appeared, meant going back to the pre-ASP.NET
approach of using a simple text editor (such as Notepad) or some other third-party tool.
In summary, the differences between Web Matrix and Visual Studio .NET are:

Project-based Solutions – Visual Studio .NET has the concept of a project, to which you
can add various types of file and resource. Web Matrix does not use a project-based
approach; instead it treats each file as a separate item.

ASP.NET Page Structure – Web Matrix creates ASP.NET pages using the inline
approach, rather than the code-behind approach of Visual Studio .NET.

User Interface – Web Matrix is light (the installation file is only around 1MB in size),
thin, and fast. However, it does not provide the entire set of user interface goodies that
are included in Visual Studio .NET. For example, Web Matrix does not provide
statement completion, lists of object members, or pop-up tips in the edit window.

Compilation of Class Files – Unlike Visual Studio .NET, Web Matrix does not
automatically compile class files into assemblies. This has to be done from the command

.NET Framework Help Files – Web Matrix does not include reference documentation
for the .NET Framework. Instead, it provides a useful, collapsible, folder-based listing of
the commonly used classes and their members, along with a full list of all the other
namespaces and classes within the .NET Framework Class Library. Web Matrix also
ships with a class browser that shows the individual members of any class, and provides
a link to the local .NET SDK (if installed) and the online MSDN .NET reference pages.

Community – Web Matrix is designed to be a community tool, and contains various
types of links to the online community site at, as well as links
to newsgroups, list servers, and other sites that provide community support for Web

Cost – Web Matrix is free!
In the words of the Web Matrix development team at Microsoft, Web Matrix is "a viral product
designed to support a community approach to ASP.NET development, while being fun to use as
well". It aims to focus on those tasks that fulfill 80% of the requirements for building ASP.NET
A Road Map to the Web Matrix IDE
The Web Matrix IDE is designed to provide a familiar interface for developers who have used
Visual Studio .NET. It includes the usual menu bars and toolbars across the top, a Toolbox
down the left, various "project windows" down the right, and a status bar across the bottom. The
following screenshot shows the default layout for a new ASP.NET page:
In the current release, the Toolbox and project windows are not moveable, though they can be
resized, and the Toolbox can be hidden. The main work area is a multiple document interface
(MDI), so you can open several files at the same time for editing. In the following sections, we'll
look in detail at each section of the IDE.
Menus and Toolbars
Many of the menu entries and icons on the toolbar are familiar items for any Windows user.
The File menu contains commands to create, open, save, close, print, and preview files. The
Edit menu contains commands that allow you to undo or re-do your recent edits, and to cut,
copy, paste, and select text, as well as the usual Find and Replace options and a command to go
to a specific line in the page.
The Edit menu also contains
commands to add code snippets
(something we'll look at when we
examine the Toolbox in more
detail) and commands to edit the
currently selected element when
in Design view, or to edit the
templates for a DataList
control. Again, we'll see more
about these features later on. The
final group of commands on this
menu allows you to format pages,
and to comment or un-comment
the currently selected text or
controls in either HTML or Code
view (both of which will be
covered in more detail when we
look at the edit window later on).
The View menu can be used to select a specific view of the
current page or file (depending on the type of file). In the
earlier screenshot of the IDE itself, you can see tabs at the
bottom of the main edit window, which correspond to the
four views: Design, HTML, Code, and All (all of which are
covered in more detail when we look at the edit window
later on). The View menu also includes commands to start
the current ASP.NET page running in your default browser,
display or hide the Toolbox, toggle the view of glyphs (such
as the form and /form items visible in the earlier
screenshot of the Web Matrix IDE), show or hide the
borders of elements, show or hide the editing grid, and
specify if the snap-to-grid feature is on or off.
The Format menu allows you to specify the
appearance of elements in your ASP.NET and
HTML pages using the normal combinations of
bold, italic, and strikeout formatting. You can also
set the foreground and background colors, control
the horizontal alignment, format items as an
ordered or unordered list, and indent them. The
formatting you specify here is added to the HTML
declaration of the elements as a mixture of standard
formatting elements (<b>, <i>, <font>, and so
on). The final option opens a submenu of block
formatting options, which add the relevant
"Heading" element, from <h1> through to <h6>.
Other, less familiar, top-level menu items are Layout and
HTML. The Layout menu contains a command to switch the
selected control(s) into Absolute Position mode. Web Matrix
then adds a position:absolute CSS style selector to the
element(s), with the appropriate size and position selectors.
Then, using the commands on this menu, you can align
elements with each other in various ways, make them the same
width, height, or size, control their z-order, and lock elements
against being moved accidentally.
The HTML menu provides features for adding hyperlinks to an element
(you get to specify the URL and description), and removing them from
an element. It also allows you to insert a fixed-size HTML table, where
you can specify all kinds of attributes for it including the number of
rows and columns, the borders and colors, the cell spacing, and the cell
padding. The commands on the HTML menu can also be used to wrap
the currently selected elements in a <span> or <div> element.
The Workspace menu is used to manipulate the Workspace
window, which is one of the items displayed on the right-hand side
of the IDE (in the section we refer to as the "project windows"). It
allows you to add a shortcut to a mapped folder on the network or
set up an FTP connection to another server. It can also be used to
add other items to the Workspace.
The Tools menu contains commands to run and manage the
various add-ins that are provided with Web Matrix, as well as
those that you create and those provided by third parties. You can
also use it to add components (either stored on your local machine
or downloaded from the ASP.NET community site) to the
Toolbox – which is displayed on the left-hand side of the IDE – or
to reset the Toolbox to show the default list of components. The
final command on this menu opens the Preferences dialog, where
you can change the way that Web Matrix works to suit your own
requirements (we'll look at this in more detail towards the end of
this document).
The final two menus, which are not shown here, are Windows and Help. The Windows menu
contains the usual Cascade, Tile, and Close All commands, as well as a list of the open windows
so that you can quickly switch between them. The Help menu contains the usual commands to
work with the local help file, as well as links to related web sites such as the online .NET
documentation and the ASP.NET QuickStart tutorials at MSDN. The Help menu also contains a
link that can be used to send feedback to the Web Matrix team at Microsoft, and commands that
display information about Web Matrix itself.
Most of the commonly used menu commands are also available from the two toolbars that
appear by default in Web Matrix. The following screenshot shows these toolbars, with the Start
command (also available from the View menu) highlighted. To the left of this icon is a textbox
in which you can enter a string to search for in the current file (press Return to start the "find"
process), and to the right are icons that toggle the display of the Toolbox, the glyphs in the edit
window, the element borders, and the edit grid, as well as an icon to toggle "snap-to-grid" on
and off. The second toolbar contains a collection of common formatting commands. As usual,
each toolbar icon displays a descriptive tooltip when you hover over it with the mouse:
The right-hand end of the upper toolbar contains a combo-box drop-down list in which you can
type a question (or relevant keywords) and get help directly from the ASP.NET Web site at This help comes in the form of a list of articles and resources that match
your query (again, press Return to start the "search" process).
The Edit Window
Most of the work you will do in Web Matrix involves an instance of the edit window (each file
you open is displayed in a separate edit window). As you'd expect, the edit window displays the
contents of a file, such as an ASP.NET page, a class file, a Web Service, and so on. Depending
on what type of file is loaded into the window, you can select one of up to four views of that file:

Design – which shows the visible appearance of the page (with or without glyphs)

HTML – which shows the actual HTML and text content of the page, but not any code

Code – which shows just the code in the page without any HTML or other content

All – which (as you'd guess) shows the complete page, including the page directives and
inline code sections
For an ASP.NET page or User Control, you get the
full set of options (tabs) shown in the
accompanying screenshot. For an HTML page, you
only get Design and HTML. For all other types of
file, there are no tabs and the only available view is
the content of the file as text.
The items that appear in the Toolbox change depending on the view (we'll explore this a little
later when we look at the Toolbox in more detail). In Design, HTML and All views, you can
drag controls from the Toolbox onto the page, and the appropriate HTML is inserted at the
point where you drop the control. In Code view, you can drag code builders onto the page.
These are "mini-wizards" that automatically create the code to accomplish specific tasks. Web
Matrix comes with a set of extremely useful code builders that create data access methods using
SQL statements, and another code builder that creates the code for sending an e-mail message.
As you edit a file in any one of the views, the other views reflect the changes as well. So you can
drag an element onto an ASP.NET page in Design view and set its visible appearance, switch to
HTML view to add attributes to it, and switch to Code view to add an event handler for it. Then,
switching to All view shows the complete page as you'd see it in a normal text editor, with the
Page directive, <script> block(s), HTML, and all other content visible.
We'll be looking in detail at how the edit window is used in Part 2, when we'll start to build
ASP.NET pages and other types of files.
Using Preview Mode
It's possible to change the behavior of Web Matrix's edit window by switching into Preview
Mode. In this mode Web Matrix doesn't attempt to interpret and display the controls and
HTML elements in a page in Design view (where they are normally displayed as glyphs). This
mode is useful if you have content that was not created within Web Matrix, or which you do not
want Web Matrix to interpret and possibly reformat. Preview Mode is selected via the
Preferences dialog (as we'll see later), and results in only two views (tabs) being available in the
edit window:

Source – which shows the complete page, including the page directives and inline code
sections (as with the All view when in the default editing mode).

Preview – which shows a rendered preview of the HTML and text content of the page,
but without attempting to interpret and reformat it. In appearance it resembles Design
view, but without the glyphs and without changing the page source.
Preview Mode only affects ASP.NET pages and User Controls (for which the two views are
named Source and Preview), and HTML pages (for which the two views are named HTML and
Quick Tag Editing
As well as editing the contents of an ASP.NET page or User Control directly in the Edit
window, you can use the Edit Tag feature on the Edit menu to quickly change the attributes or
content of an element when the page is displayed in Design view. This opens a dialog window
that shows the HTML declaration of the currently selected element in the page, which you can
then edit as required:
The Quick Tag Edit window can also be opened by
right clicking on an element on the page in Design
view, and selecting Edit Tag from the context menu tha
appears. This menu also contains the Cut, Copy, and
Paste commands.
Editing DataList Templates
When the currently selected control in Design view (for an ASP.NET page or User Control) is a
DataList, you can edit the templates for that control using the Edit Templates command on
the Edit menu. Alternatively, you can right-click on the DataList control within the page in
Design view to open the context menu seen in the previous section, and select Edit Templates.
Both actions open the Edit DataList Templates dialog.
Templates define the appearance of the various sections of the control's output at run time, and
are divided into three groups: Header and Footer Templates, Item Templates, and Separator
Template. Using the two drop-down lists you can specify the template you want to edit and
then create the content for the template within the dialog:
The Template Design section of the dialog is a "designer surface", just like the Edit window in
Design view. You drag and drop controls onto this surface to create the appearance in exactly
the same way as you would in the Edit window.
Templates for a DataGrid control are edited using the Properties window and not through
the Edit Templates command. You'll see this demonstrated later in this document. Templates
for the Repeater control must be defined manually within the Edit window in HTML view.
The Toolbox
The Web Matrix Toolbox looks and works much like those in Visual Studio and other third-
party tools. When an ASP.NET page or User Control page is open in Design view, HTML view,
or All view within the edit window, the Toolbox lists the various elements and controls that can
be added to that page. The available controls are divided into three sections: HTML Elements
(server controls from the System.Web.UI.HtmlControls namespace), Web Controls (server
controls from the System.Web.UI.WebControls namespace), and Custom Controls (an area
where you can add your own controls). To place any of these controls onto the current page,
you simply drag them from the Toolbox and drop them into the required position on the page.
When the current edit window is in Code view or All view, the Toolbox contains a section
named Code Builders (which was briefly mentioned earlier). The Code Builder section contains
small Wizards that can be used to automate the creation of specific blocks of code in the current
page. To start a Code Builder Wizard, you simply drag it from the Toolbox onto the page. If
any further information is required, the Wizard will prompt for it.
To manage the contents of the Toolbox, right-
click on it (or on one of the controls it contains)
and a context menu will appear that provides
options to add, remove, and rename controls –
as well as options to sort the controls by name
and to reset the Toolbox so that it shows its
default contents.
Toolbox Snippets
The final section of the Toolbox is named My Snippets (continuing in Microsoft's tradition of
creating cute-sounding names). You can create a snippet by highlighting some text or code in
the edit window and then simply dragging it onto the Toolbox. Part of the first line of the text is
displayed in the Toolbox (although you can rename it as shown in the next screenshot), and the
complete snippet appears in a tooltip when the mouse pointer hovers over it. This snippet can
then be inserted into any other page or file by dragging it from the Toolbox:
If you right-click on the My Snippets section of the Toolbox, or on an existing snippet, a
context menu that allows you to rename or remove snippets appears. You can also export the
snippets to an XML file as well as importing snippets as XML. This is an extremely quick and
useful way to share code with others – including the ASP.NET Web Matrix Community. You'll
find more about this community later on.
Toolbox Code Builders
Let's look at an example of the Code Builders that are provided with Web Matrix. The
following screenshot shows the results of dragging the SELECT Data Method Code Builder
onto an ASP.NET page. After displaying the dialog in which you specify which database to
connect to, Query Builder opens a dialog in which you can create the required SQL statement.
Once this SQL statement is complete, Query Builder provides a dialog in which you can test the
statement by entering values for the WHERE clause parameters, and then view the results:
Once you are satisfied with the SQL statement, Query Builder asks you to specify the name for
the data access method it will create, and whether the method will use a DataSet or a
DataReader to access the data store. Choosing a DataSet creates code along the lines of the
following. The code is inserted into the current page automatically. Note that the WHERE clause
contains type-safe arguments. This is achieved through the use of typed parameters in the
Function MyQueryMethod(ByVal doors As Short, ByVal seats As Short) As System.Data.DataSet
Dim connectionString As String = "server='localhost'; user id='userid'; " _
& "password='password'; Database='WroxCars'"
Dim sqlConnection As System.Data.SqlClient.SqlConnection _
= New System.Data.SqlClient.SqlConnection(connectionString)
Dim queryString As String = "SELECT [tblCar].[Doors], [tblCar].[Seats], " _
& "[tblCar].[Price],
[tblCar].[Precis], [tblCar].[Model] " _
& "FROM [tblCar] WHERE (([tblCar].[Doors] = @Doors) " _
& "AND ([tblCar].[Seats] >= @Seats))"
Dim sqlCommand As System.Data.SqlClient.SqlCommand _
= New System.Data.SqlClient.SqlCommand(queryString, sqlConnection)
sqlCommand.Parameters.Add("@Doors", System.Data.SqlDbType.SmallInt).Value = doors
sqlCommand.Parameters.Add("@Seats", System.Data.SqlDbType.SmallInt).Value = seats
Dim dataAdapter As System.Data.SqlClient.SqlDataAdapter _
= New System.Data.SqlClient.SqlDataAdapter(sqlCommand)
Dim dataSet As System.Data.DataSet = New System.Data.DataSet
Return dataSet
End Function
The Send Email Code Builder item can also be dragged onto a page, and in this case the dialog
shown in the following screenshot appears. In this dialog you can specify the To and From
addresses, the Subject, the mail format, and the SMTP Server to use to send the message:
The following code is then created. All that is left to do is to set the text of the message using the
mailMessage.Body property:
' Build a MailMessage
Dim mailMessage As System.Web.Mail.MailMessage = New System.Web.Mail.MailMessage
mailMessage.From = ""
mailMessage.To = ""
mailMessage.Subject = "Email Subject"
mailMessage.BodyFormat = System.Web.Mail.MailFormat.Text
' TODO: Set the mailMessage.Body property
System.Web.Mail.SmtpMail.SmtpServer = "localhost"
Adding Controls to the Toolbox
You can add any type of .NET control to the Toolbox – the controls from the Microsoft Mobile
Internet Toolkit (MIT), the Internet Explorer Web Controls, or controls that you install from
the Web Matrix community web site. To install controls into the Custom Controls section of
the Toolbox, select Add Online Toolbox Components or Add Local Toolbox Components from
the main Tools menu, or right-click on the Toolbox itself.
If you select Add Online Toolbox Components, Web Matrix connects to the community web
site and shows the controls that are available for download. In the following screenshot we've
selected the DHTML Controls section, and you can see that it contains the IE Web Controls
(note that the range of Online Component Gallery controls displayed here will expand and
change regularly over time):
If you select Add Local Toolbox Components, a dialog opens that allows you to select an
assembly from the %WINDOWS%\Microsoft.Net\Framework\version\ folder on your
system by default, or from any other folder that contains a suitable Component Library DLL.
The "Project" Window (Upper Half)
Down the right-hand side of the screen are two windows that together make up what we refer to
here as the "project window". The upper half provides three options:

Workspace – which shows the drives and files on your local machine and, by default,
any mapped folders. You can also add shortcuts to other local or network folders, or to
other servers via FTP using the commands on the Workspace menu. Double-clicking a
file here opens it in a new editing window. By right-clicking in the Workspace window
you can add a shortcut, create a new folder, or create a new file based on one of the
standard types available in the New File dialog. We'll look at the available file types in
Types of Files and Wizards later on.

Data – which allows you to connect to a SQL Server or MSDE database and then view,
create, and edit tables and stored procedures within that database. The following
screenshot shows a connection to a database named WroxCars, and you can see the
tables within this database displayed.

Open Items – which lists the edit windows that are currently open within the IDE. You
can simply click on one to bring it to the front for editing.
Using the Data Window
To connect to a data source click the icon at the top of the Data window, as shown in the
following screenshot, and enter the connection details for the database. You can generally use
Windows authentication for the local SQL Server or MSDE database, or if you prefer you can
specify the user name and password for SQL Server authentication. Then, select the database
from the drop-down list:
There is also an option to create a new database on the specified server. All you do is enter the
name for the new database in the dialog that appears, and the database is created and displayed
in the Data window.
Working with a Data Source
Once you have at least one database open in the Data window (you can connect to more than
one at a time if you wish), the remaining icons at the top of this window are enabled. You can
use these icons to work with the database – you can create a new table or stored procedure
(using the second icon), or edit existing ones (using the third icon). For example, in the
following screenshot, we selected our tblCars table and clicked the Edit icon. You can see the
contents of the table, and the row values can be edited directly. Note, however, that this only
works if the table has a primary key defined:
As well as editing the contents of the table, you can also view the table structure by clicking the
link at the bottom of the dialog shown in the previous screenshot:
However, you can only edit the table structure if the table is empty. The following screenshot
shows a new table that was created by clicking the second (New Item) icon in the Data window.
Three columns have been added to it, setting the properties using the controls in the Column
Properties section of the dialog:
Querying a Data Source
The fourth icon in the Data window is used to query a data source. If you select an existing
table in the Data window first, Web Matrix creates a simple SQL statement that will query and
display the entire contents of that table. You can, of course, edit the SQL statement to perform
more specific queries if required:
The other three icons at the top of the Data window can be used to refresh the contents of the
window, delete a table or stored procedure from a database (or even delete an entire database),
and disconnect a database from the Data window. This means that the Data window provides a
complete environment for working with databases, which is especially useful if you are
connecting to MSDE (which, unlike the full version of SQL Server, provides no user interface).
Just take care not to select the Delete icon when you only want to disconnect!
Data Tables, Data Controls, and Grid Controls
Data access is at the heart of many web sites and web applications, and Web Matrix makes it
easy to perform common tasks that interact with a database. For example, you can drag a table
from the list in the Data window and drop it onto a page – whereupon Web Matrix
automatically creates a DataGrid-based page that displays the data from that table:
If you then switch to Code view, you can see the code that Web Matrix has created within the
page (the following is an abridged version):
<wmx:SqlDataSourceControl id="SqlDataSourceControl1" runat="server"
UpdateCommand="UPDATE [tblCar] SET [Model]=@Model,[Doors]=@Doors,[Seats]=@Seats,
[Price]=@Price,[Precis]=@Precis WHERE [CarID]=@CarID"
SelectCommand="SELECT * FROM [tblCar]" AutoGenerateUpdateCommand="False"
ConnectionString="server='localhost'; trusted _connection=true; Database='WroxCars'"
<wmx:MxDataGrid id="MxDataGrid1" runat="server"
BorderColor="#CCCCCC" AllowSorting="True" AutoGenerateFields="False"
AllowPaging="True" BackColor="White" CellPadding="3" DataKeyField="CarID"
BorderWidth="1px" BorderStyle="None">
<PagerStyle horizontalalign="Center"
forecolor="#000066" backcolor="White"
<FooterStyle forecolor="#000066" backcolor="White"></FooterStyle>
<SelectedItemStyle font-bold="True" forecolor="White"
<ItemStyle forecolor="#000066"></ItemStyle>
<wmx:BoundField DataField="CarID" SortExpression="CarID"
<wmx:BoundField DataField="Model" SortExpression="Model"
<wmx:BoundField DataField="Doors" SortExpression="Doors"
<wmx:BoundField DataField="Seats" SortExpression="Seats"
<wmx:BoundField DataField="Price" SortExpression="Price"
<wmx:BoundField DataField="Precis" SortExpression="Precis"
<HeaderStyle font-bold="True" forecolor="White" backcolor="#006699"></HeaderStyle>
The code uses several new server controls that are specially designed for use in Web Matrix –
MxDataGrid and the associated BoundField elements that create the visible part of the
display, as well as SqlDataSourceControl, which connects to the data source and exposes
the data. We'll look at these in more depth later on.
The "Project" Window (Lower Half)
The lower section of the "project" window also provides three main features:

Properties (and Events) – which allows you to view and edit the properties for the item
currently selected in the edit window. For an ASP.NET page or a User Control in
Design view, you can select an element (or even the page itself by selecting the <body>
element) and access its properties. In all other views, the Properties window shows the
ASP.NET-related properties for the document itself. For all other types of file, the
Properties window simply displays the path to the document.

Classes – which provides a list of all the .NET Framework namespaces (displayed either
by type or name) that are commonly used in ASP.NET projects. Each namespace can be
expanded to show the classes it contains, together with the base class and interfaces that
it implements. Double-clicking on any entry in this list opens the Web Matrix Class
Browser, which shows details of that item.

Community – which provides links to useful resources, newsgroups, list servers, and
other sites that provide support and references materials for Web Matrix.
The Properties Window
The Properties window provides three views of the properties and events for an element or
other object. The default view is Categorized (as shown in the first of the following three
screenshots), which displays the properties within expandable categories such as Appearance,
Data, and Layout. The icons in the Properties window allow you to switch between this view
and Alphabetic view, which is useful if you are familiar with the property names for the selected
object. In both cases, property values can be set by typing in a new value, selecting it from a list
of predefined values (such as True or False), or through a "picker" (for example, for selecting a
color) or some other dialog.
There is also an Events icon in the Properties window, which you click to switch the view to
show the server-side ASP.NET events that are available for the selected object. Double-clicking
on an event name automatically inserts the code for an empty event handler in the page,
displays the page in Code view, and positions the cursor ready for you to type the code for the
event. You can also use the drop-down list for each event to connect it to an existing event
handler in the page. We'll see this process in action in Part 2.
Clicking the fifth (and final) icon opens any Property Pages associated with the selected
control. For example, with a DataGrid control, a dialog that allows the templates for the
control to be defined is displayed:
When the currently selected control is a DataGrid or a DataList, the lower section of the
Properties window contains two hyperlinks. The second one, Property Builder, opens the
"property page" dialog shown in the previous screenshot. The other link, Auto-Format, provides
a list of pre-defined colors and styles for the grid or list, and for its content. The style can be
applied simply by selecting it in the Auto Format dialog:
Finally, above the icons in the Properties window, are two useful drop-down lists that make it
easy to navigate through the controls on a page. The top one shows the currently selected
control, and also lists all the other controls in the page, allowing you to select one directly. The
drop-down list below this lists all the elements for which the currently selected element is a
child or descendant, and allows you to easily find and select any ancestor or parent (enclosing)
The Classes Window
When working with the .NET Framework, information about the multitude of classes that are
included in the .NET Framework Class Library is vital. To make it easier, Web Matrix includes
features that allow you to access detailed help about any class from within the IDE. The Classes
window, by default, shows four folders that contain the ASP.NET Page Intrinsics, the range of Web
Controls, the range of HTML Controls, and other common classes for web applications. Below this
are the other commonly used classes, listed by namespace.
Other views can be selected; for example you can use the icons at the top of the Classes
window to display the details in Assembly view (where the classes are listed by the assembly
DLL that contains them), or the list can be sorted alphabetically, by class type and by visibility
(that is, whether they are public or private).
Non-public classes are not shown in the list by default, though the fourth icon in this window
can be used to display them in addition to the public classes. The Classes window also contains
a search textbox, in which you can enter a search string. Then, only the classes that contain that
string in their name will be displayed (press Return to start the search, and then click the View
Search Results icon to toggle between the search results and the namespace list):
The Customize icon in the top right of the Classes window is used to modify the list of
assemblies that appear in the Classes window. The following screenshot shows how to add the
System.EnterpriseServices assembly to the list in the Classes window, which then shows
all the namespaces within this assembly:
The Class Browser
Web Matrix includes a comprehensive tool – the Matrix ClassBrowser – that can be opened
independently from the Start menu, or from within Web Matrix by double-clicking on a class
displayed in the Classes window. When opened from the Start menu, it looks like the
following screenshot. The left-hand window lists the .NET Framework namespaces, and for
each one the classes and interfaces implemented within that namespace are listed. Double-
clicking on a class opens a list of all the members of that class in a new window in the right-
hand area of the Class Browser. Clicking on one of the members then displays details of that
member in the right-hand area of this window – including the static fields, constructors,
properties, methods, and events:
The Class Browser uses reflection to obtain details of the class and its members, so the
information is limited to just the member definitions. Each parameter or enumeration listed in
the right-hand pane acts as a hyperlink, which when clicked displays information about that
object or enumeration in another window. This makes it easy to follow the hierarchy and to get
details about the method parameters or property/field value types that are required. There are
also links that open the local .NET Framework SDK documentation (if installed) or the online
MSDN Library at the relevant page, where more details of the class and its members can be
The menu bar and toolbar in the Class Browser offer the same set of features as the Classes
window we discussed earlier. You can change the sort order and organization of the namespaces
and classes in the left-hand window, search for classes by name, and show or hide non-public
classes. The same Customize button, which opens the Select Assemblies dialog in which you
can add and remove assemblies from the right-hand list, is also present. The Window menu can
be used to tile or cascade the windows, or just to switch from one to another.
When information about a class is opened from within the Web Matrix IDE (by double-clicking
on a class in the Classes window) the same right-hand sections of the page shown in the
previous screenshot are displayed within the IDE, but the left-hand list of namespaces is not
Types of Files and Wizards
There are three ways to open a new file in Web Matrix. You can:

Select New from the File menu

Click the New File icon in the toolbar

Right-click on the target folder in the Workspace window and select Add New Item
The last two of these techniques are shown in the following compound screenshot, together with
the New File dialog that appears. Notice that the path is that selected in the Workspace
The New File dialog lists the various kinds of file that you can create and edit within the Web
Matrix IDE. Each is created from a template stored in folders within the Templates subfolder
of the Program Files\Microsoft ASP.NET Web Matrix\version\ folder. Each is
described next.
File Types in the (General) Section
There are 14 different types of file that you can create from the (General) section of the New
File dialog. They are:

ASP.NET Page – this creates a file with the extension .aspx. The file contains the
@Page directive, the opening and closing <html> tags, an empty <head> section, and a
<body> section containing a server-side <form>.

ASP.NET User Control – this creates a file with the extension .ascx. The file contains
just the @Control directive.

HTML Page – this creates a file with the extension .htm. The file contains the opening
and closing <html> tags, plus empty <head> and <body> sections.

XML Web Service – this creates a file with the extension .asmx. The file contains the
@WebService directive, Imports or using statements for the required Web Service
namespaces, a Class definition, and an example public function outline that you can
modify. You must specify the class name and namespace before you can create this type
of file.

Class File – this creates a file with the extension .vb or .cs (depending on which
language you specify), containing an Imports or using statement for the System
namespace, the Namespace definition, an outline Class definition, and an empty
public Sub or function. You must specify the class name and namespace before you
can create this type of file.

Style Sheet – this creates a file with the extension .css. The file contains just an empty
BODY{} selector definition.

Global.asax – this creates a file with the extension .asax. The file contains the
@Application directive and a <script> section that contains empty event handlers
for the Application_Start, Application_End, Application_Error,
Session_Start, and Session_End events.

Web.Config – this creates a web.config file containing the <configuration>,
<appSettings>, and <system.web> sections. Within the <system.web> section
there are <sessionState>, <customErrors>, <authentication>, and
<authorization> elements. All the elements are commented-out by default, and
contain a description of their usage and the valid values for the common attributes.

XML File – this creates a file with the extension .xml. The file contains just the <?xml
... ?> processing instruction that defines the version and encoding of the file.

XSL Transform – this creates an XSLT stylesheet file with the extension .xslt. The file
contains the <?xml ... ?> processing instruction and the root <stylesheet>

XML Schema – this creates an XML (XSD) schema file with the extension .xsd. The
file contains the <?xml ... ?> processing instruction and the root <xsd:schema>

ASP.NET HTTP Handler – this creates a file with the extension .ashx. The file contains
the @WebHandler directive, Imports or using statements for the required System
and System.Web namespaces, a Namespace definition, and a public Class definition
that implements the IHttpHandler interface. Within the Class definition are the two
required member definitions for the ProcessRequest event and the IsReusable
property. You must specify the class name and namespace before you can create this
type of file.

Text File – this creates an empty text file with the extension .txt.

SQL Script – this creates a text file that contains just "/* New SQL script */". The file
has an extension of .sql.
File Types in the Data Pages Section
While the file types listed in the (General) section are predominantly empty "outline" files, the
file types listed in the other sections are more like Wizards, but without any step-by-step dialogs.
The templates that they use to create the new file contain code and (in some cases) ASP.NET
server controls in order to implement a working page that you can use as a starting point for
developing your own pages. The file types available in the Data Pages section are shown in the
following screenshot, and are then described:

Simple Data Report – this creates a page that accesses the local SQL Server or MSDE
database and displays details from the Authors table of the sample pubs database, using
a DataReader as the data source for an ASP.NET DataGrid control. The following
screenshot shows the page in Design view, and when opened in a browser:

Filtered Data Report – this creates a similar page to the previous example, but this time
containing controls where you can select an author and see a list of their books. A
DataReader is used when the page is first loaded to fill the drop-down list. Then, when
Show Titles is clicked, an appropriate SQL statement is constructed and used with a
DataReader to extract the information from the titleview SQL View in the pubs
database. The following screenshot shows the page in Design view, and when opened in
a browser:

Data Report with Paging – this page fills a DataSet with data from the Authors table
and then binds it to an ASP.NET DataGrid control. This time, however, it uses the
built-in paging features of the DataGrid to display the results over separate pages,
along with links that allow a user to navigate through the pages.

Data Report with Paging and Sorting – this page extends the techniques developed in
the previous type of page by adding a sorting facility. It does this by setting the attributes
of the DataGrid control, and adding a simple event handler to respond to the Sort
event of the grid.

Master-Details Grids – this page shows how easy it is to display data from two related
tables. Data from the Authors table in the sample pubs database is loaded into a
DataSet and displayed in a DataGrid control that has paging enabled, and which
contains a ButtonColumn with the text Show details. Clicking on one of these button
links causes a DataReader to fetch the matching data from the titleview SQL View
in the pubs database and this is displayed in the second DataGrid control. The
following screenshot shows the page, both in Design view and when opened in a

Editable Data Grid – this example shows the basic technique for editing data using the
built-in features of the ASP.NET DataGrid control. A DataSet is filled with data from
the Authors table. An EditCommandColumn that implements the Edit/Update/Cancel
link buttons and a ButtonColumn that implements the Delete link buttons are then
added to this DataGrid. Code in the page reacts to the various events raised by these
link buttons; the code executes SQL statements that update the original database table
contents. The following screenshot shows the page, in both Design view and when
opened in a browser:

Simple Stored Procedure – this example is similar to the first of the Data Pages we
looked at. The only difference is that it calls the stored procedure named
CustOrdersDetail within the pubs database, rather than using a SQL statement
stored as a string. The result is returned as a DataReader, which is bound to an
ASP.NET DataGrid control in the page.
File Types in the Mobile Pages Section
Web Matrix contains templates that allow you to create "mobile" pages and user controls. These
pages are based on the classes exposed by the Microsoft Mobile Internet Toolkit (MMIT). The
MMIT can be used to create pages that automatically adapt for a range of devices. These pages,
and the controls they contain, produce either HTML or WML (Wireless Markup Language)
output, tailoring it for the particular device that is accessing the page:
There are two types of file in the Mobile Pages section of the Add New File dialog:

Simple Mobile Page – this creates a file with the extension .aspx. The file contains the
@Page directive and inherits from the special MobilePage class that is implemented
within the Microsoft Mobile Internet Toolkit (MMIT). The file also includes the
@Register directive for the Mobile Controls and an empty server-side

Simple Mobile User Control – this creates a file with the extension .ascx. The file
contains the @Control directive but inherits from the special MobileUserControl
class implemented within the Microsoft Mobile Internet Toolkit (MMIT). The file also
includes the @Register directive for the Mobile Controls.
The Environment for Mobile Pages
When the page currently being edited within Web Matrix is a mobile page, the environment
changes to provide the special features required for this type of page. The Toolbar now shows
the Mobile Controls section, which contains the controls from the MMIT. These are the only
controls that should be used on mobile pages, as the standard HTML and Web Forms controls
cannot output the correct content in all circumstances (because they can't produce WML).
The following screenshot shows that the Edit window changes as well. It gains controls to
specify how the page will filter on and react to different devices. In the MMIT, it's possible to
set up device filters, so that sections of the output can be modified for specific devices. These
controls are used to configure that filtering:
At the bottom of the Edit window, there is a minor change to the tabs for the four different
views of the page. Markup replaces HTML on the second tab, as the output from a mobile page
may be WML instead of HTML. In addition, the controls and classes from the Mobile Internet
Toolkit are included in the default list of classes displayed in the Classes window, and in the
separate ClassBrowser tool.
File Types in the Output Caching Section
The Output Caching section of the New File dialog contains examples of how you can set up
pages that use output caching to improve performance, minimize server overhead, and reduce
response times. The four available file types are fundamentally similar, and demonstrate how
output caching can be configured to automatically detect different features of each request:

Vary By None – this demonstrates "total" output caching, where every client is sent the
same cached page until it expires. The example contains an @OutputCache directive
that specifies a cache duration of 10 seconds, and contains the attribute
VaryByParam="none". Two label controls on the page are set to the current time and
the time that the cache expires. By refreshing the page in the browser, you can see the
effect of the output caching.

Vary Cache By Browser – this demonstrates output caching that sends different pages to
each type of browser, based on the browser detection carried out by the
Request.Browser object. The example contains an @OutputCache directive that
specifies a cache duration of 10 seconds, and contains the attributes
VaryByParam="none" and VaryByCustom="browser". This time there are three
label controls on the page, which are set to the browser name, the current time, and the
time that the cache expires. By refreshing the page in the browser, and loading it into
different types of browser, you can see the effect of the output caching.

Vary Cache By Headers – this demonstrates output caching that sends different pages
depending on a specific HTTP header sent in the request. This example contains an
@OutputCache directive that again specifies a 10 second cache duration, with the
attributes VaryByParam="none" and VaryByHeader="Accept-Language". The
same page will then only be sent in response to requests where the Accept-Language
header is the same. Three label controls on the page are set to the value of the Accept-
Language header, the current time, and the time that the cache expires.

Vary Cache By Parameters – this demonstrates output caching that sends different pages
depending on a value sent as a parameter from the client – in this case a value posted
from a drop-down list control on a <form>. This example contains an @OutputCache
directive that specifies a cache duration of 120 seconds, with the attribute
VaryByParam="Category" (the id and name of the drop-down list). Three label
controls on the page are set to the value selected in the drop-down list, the current time,
and the time that the cache expires. Selecting a different category and clicking the
Lookup button causes a page to be created and cached for that category only if one is
not already available in the cache. The following screenshots show this page, in both
Design view and when opened in a browser:
File Types in the Security Section
There are three examples in the Security section of the New File dialog, which demonstrate the
common techniques for creating authentication (login) pages for a secure section of a Web site:

Login Page – this creates a standard "log in" page that contains two textboxes with
corresponding RequiredFieldValidator controls attached, a Login button, and a
label where any error message can be displayed. The code in the page uses a simple
hard-coded check of the values you enter, and then shows how to execute the
RedirectFromLoginPage method to load the page that was originally requested. The
following screenshots show this page, both in Design view and when opened in a

Logout Page – this creates the corresponding "log off" page, with a Status label and a
single Log Off button. The label shows the username of the currently logged-in user
where available. Clicking the button calls the SignOut method and displays a message
indicating that the user is no longer authenticated. The following screenshots show the
Logout page, in both Design view and when opened in a browser:

Config File – this example creates a suitable web.config file to use with the two
previous security examples. The file contains a <configuration> element with a child
<system.web> element. The <system.web> element contains the
<authentication> and <authorization> elements that specify Forms
authentication, and deny anonymous users.
File Types in the Web Services Section
The final section of the New File dialog is the Web Services section. This includes four
example pages that implement different features of Web Services. For each one, you must enter
the class name and namespace before you can create the file:

Simple – this example creates the simplest type of Web Service, basically the same as
the XML Web Service option in the (General) section of the New File dialog. The file
contains an @WebService directive, Imports or using statements for the required
Web Service namespaces, a Class definition, and an example public function outline
that you can modify.

SOAP Headers – this example creates a Web Service that reads a custom value from the
SOAP headers of the request, and displays the result.

Custom Class – this example demonstrates how a custom class can be returned from a
Web Service. The code creates an instance of a custom class named OrderDetails
(which is actually an array of another custom class named OrderItem), sets some values
for the class members, and then returns this instance.

Output Caching – this example demonstrates how the output from a Web Service can be
cached, much like the examples shown earlier that used output caching. It simply
defines a public function that is implemented as a WebMethod, and adds a
CacheDuration attribute with a value of 30 to the function so that the output is
automatically cached for thirty seconds. The following screenshots show the page
opened in a browser, and the result:
Language, Class Names, and Namespaces
Remember that, for each type of file selected in the New File dialog, any code automatically
included in the file is in the language that you specify in that dialog – the choice is between
Visual Basic .NET and C#. Depending on the type of file you select, the dialog will also contain
controls in which any other required information is entered – such as the class name and
namespace (in some cases this is optional, while in others – such as a Web Service or Class
file – it is mandatory). We'll create some example pages later on in order to demonstrate these
general techniques.
Help, Support, and Reference Information
We've seen how Web Matrix provides access to reference materials and online help in several
ways. Future plans are for Web Matrix to include its own comprehensive help files that describe
the workings of the IDE, and how to get the best from the product. Only minimal built-in help
features are currently implemented at the moment, such as the links to various resources and
samples at and However, if you place the
cursor over a class name in the Edit window and press the F1 key, a new ClassBrowser window
opens with reference details of that class.
Several other places within the Web Matrix IDE also provide access to online help and support.
The Community window (in the lower part of the "project" window) contains links to the
ASP.NET Web Matrix site, as well as links to several Microsoft-run .NET newsgroups, and list
servers provided by other members of the Web Matrix community.
The ASP.NET Web Matrix site is part of the main ASP.NET site at, which also contains a great deal of useful information and links
to other ASP.NET-related sites. It is also the prime source for downloadable add-ins, control
libraries and other resources for Web Matrix – including access to the latest version of the
product. Two views of the first page follow so that you can see the range of resources that are
The second page (opened from the second icon at the top of the Community window) contains
links to related web sites and other resources, while the third page (opened from the third icon)
accesses MSN Messenger (if you have this installed on your machine), so that you can chat in
real time with other Web Matrix users.
Don't forget that the main toolbar at the top of the Web Matrix window contains a combobox
drop-down list in which you can type a question or a series of keywords. Pressing Return opens
the ASP.NET Web Matrix site in your default browser, and displays a list of articles and
resources that match your query.
You'll also recall from our earlier discussion that the ClassBrowser window contains links for
each member of the .NET Framework Class Library that open the corresponding help and
reference pages either locally from your own machine, or at the MSDN online library site.
Sending Feedback to Microsoft
The Help menu in the Web Matrix IDE contains an entry to send feedback on the product to
Microsoft. This feedback can consist of bug reports, feature requests, or just general information
and comments.
Web Matrix is a "community product", and, as such, its future development will
be guided to a large extent by the feedback Microsoft receives from users. So,
don't be afraid to send in your opinions  the development team is keen to hear
what you think!
The Send Feedback window is a three-page tabbed dialog that contains the Feedback page
itself, the application Information page, and a list of all the currently Loaded Assemblies (the
same dialog, but without the Feedback page, appears when you select the Application
Information command from the Help menu):
The Microsoft ASP.NET Web Matrix Web Server
Before we move on to Part 2, where we'll see Web Matrix in action, we'll take a quick look at
the web server that is provided with Web Matrix. This is a slim and lightweight web server that
can be used to run ASP.NET pages and other resources (such as web Services) on machines that
do not already have a local Web server installed.
When you first run an ASP.NET page or Web Service from within the Web Matrix IDE, a
dialog opens that asks you which web server you want to use. As shown in the following
screenshot, you can allow the Microsoft ASP.NET Web Matrix Web Server to execute your
page or Web Service:
As you can see, the default for the web server is to run on port 8080. This is ideal if the
machine you are using already has a web server (such as IIS) installed and running. The existing
Web server is likely to be using port 80, and so by using a different port the Web Matrix Web
server avoids any possibility of an error. You can change the Application Port to a different port
if you wish (such as port 80 if you don't have IIS installed).
Alternatively, you can select an existing instance of Internet Information Server (IIS) to execute
your page, in which case Web Matrix will create a new virtual root (with the name you specify)
that points to the folder containing the file you are editing. If you wish, you can also turn on
directory browsing for this virtual root, which makes it easier to find and run individual pages as
you develop your application.
Once the Web Matrix Web server has been started, an icon appears in the Windows Taskbar
tray. Right-clicking this icon displays a menu in which you can open the web site that the web
server is providing in your default browser, Restart or Stop the web server, or show details
about it:
Part 2 – Putting Web Matrix to Work
Now that you know what tasks Microsoft ASP.NET Web Matrix is capable of, it's time to put
them into practice. Web Matrix is easy to use, so we're not going to show you every aspect of it
in action. Instead, we'll build a simple web site for a pizza delivery company, concentrating on
the most commonly used pages. This will show you just how little you need to do to get a site
up and running with Web Matrix.
Pretty Quick Pizza
Our sample web site is designed to allow customers to pick pizzas and drinks, add them to a
simple shopping basket, and then proceed to a checkout where they pay either by cash on
delivery or by being billed to an account. It's a really simple e-commerce site, and leaves out
many features (such as looking cool!) because they aren't required. We'll end up with a simple
site like this:
From this page a customer can select from a variety of types and sizes of pizza and from a range
of drinks. Their selection can be added to a shopping basket, and once the customer has made
all their choices, they can proceed to the checkout:
The checkout page redisplays the customer's selection and allows the order to be placed. The
customer can choose to pay when the pizza is delivered or to have the amount billed to an
account. If the customer chooses to have the amount billed to an account they will be taken to a
secure login page where they can access their account details.
All of the code for this example is available from
Building ASP.NET Pages
Because we're not building a fully functional site, we've cut out some of the stuff that you'd
normally use. For example, we've only got a minimal data access layer, limited security, and
few advanced features. This is because what's important is showing you the types of pages Web
Matrix can create, and what you need to do to customize them for your own requirements.
As Web Matrix is file based, you'll need to set up the IIS Virtual Directory
yourself. I called it PPQ.
In the following sections we'll tackle:

Creating a Data Layer that consists of an XML file, a VB.NET component, and some
SQL stored procedures and tables

Creating User Controls for the page header and the shopping basket

Creating the pizza selection page, where we use a variety of ASP.NET controls, as well
as the newly created User Controls

Creating the checkout page, where we take the user’s details and how they'd like to pay

Creating secure pages for customers with accounts

Creating a variety of different pages, such as those that user a Master and Details grid, or
those that require caching

How to create Web Services

How to use other controls, such as the Internet Explorer controls and custom controls
The Data Layer
The data layer for this application consists of two files: an XML file that contains the data and a
class that loads the data and performs some database logging. When you first start Web Matrix
you'll be presented with the New File dialog (remember that Web Matrix is file based, and not
project based like Visual Studio .NET). To keep the files for this web site together we'll need to
create a directory – we can do this either externally in Explorer, or from within Web Matrix
using the Workspace, where we select New Directory from the context menu:
Once we've created the directory, we need to start creating the files for the application. First of
all, we need to create the XML file. You can do this from the New … item on the File menu, or
use the context menu on the directory:
This brings up the New File dialog, from where you can select XML File from the General
templates. You then need only add your data:
In reality it's likely that you'd use a database for all of these details, but this is a quick solution
that shows the simplicity of Web Matrix – note that there are no special XML editing features,
such as XML validation, that would add complexity to the tool.
To use this data, we create a class called DataLayer:
Here we have the option to select the default language, the class name, and the namespace for
the class. The template created is a stub into which you add your required code. We could have
used the Insert Data Method code builder to add code but the code generated by the code
builder creates a SQL statement to execute, and we want to use a couple of stored procedures.
We'll add the code manually (although you could still use the code builder and then modify the
generated code):
Imports System
Imports System.Data
Imports System.Data.SqlClient
Imports System.Web
Imports System.Xml
Namespace ppq
Public Class DataLayer
Public Sub New()
End Sub
Public Shared Function GetData() As DataSet
Dim ctx As HttpContext = HttpContext.Current
Dim ds As New DataSet()
Return ds
End Function
Public Shared Sub LogOrder(Name As String, Address As String, _
ZipCode As String)
Dim ctx As HttpContext = HttpContext.Current
Dim Basket As DataTable = CType(ctx.Session("Basket"), DataTable)
Dim conn As New SqlConnection("server=.; " & _
"DataBase=AlandDave; Trusted _Connection=true")
' add the order
Dim cmd As New SqlCommand()
cmd.Connection = conn
cmd.CommandText = "sp_PPQInsertOrder"
cmd.CommandType = CommandType.StoredProcedure
cmd.Parameters.Add("@Name", SqlDbType.VarChar, 25).Value = Name
cmd.Parameters.Add("@Address", SqlDbType.VarChar, 255).Value = Address
cmd.Parameters.Add("@ZipCode", SqlDbType.VarChar, 15).Value = ZipCode
dim OrderID As Integer = cmd.ExecuteScalar()
' add the order details
cmd.CommandText = "sp_PPQInsertOrderItem"
cmd.Parameters.Add("@fkOrderID", SqlDbType.Int)
cmd.Parameters.Add("@Item", SqlDbType.VarChar, 25)
cmd.Parameters.Add("@Quantity", SqlDbType.Int)
cmd.Parameters.Add("@Cost", SqlDbType.Decimal)
cmd.Parameters("@fkOrderID").Value = OrderID
Dim row As DataRow
For Each row In Basket.Rows
cmd.Parameters("@Item").Value = row("Description")
cmd.Parameters("@Quantity").Value = row("Quantity")
cmd.Parameters("@Cost").Value = row("Cost")
End Sub
End Class
End Namespace
This class has two simple methods. The first method simply loads and returns the XML file as a
DataSet. The second method accesses a SQL database in order to add details of the order and
order lines. All this is fairly standard code that uses a couple of stored procedures and
parameters. The important thing to understand about this code is that the shopping basket is
held in the current Session – we'll see how that's created later.
Compiling Classes
One thing that Web Matrix doesn't do is compilation, so we have to perform this manually. We
simply created a batch file with the following in it (note that this command is all one line):
vbc /debug /nologo /t:library /out:bin/DataLayer.dll /r:System.dll
/r:System.Xml.dll /r:System.Web.dll /r:System.Data.dll Datalayer.vb
Then we can run this batch file from the command line. This sort of thing would actually be
quite a good add-in.
Managing the Data
We discussed Web Matrix's data management features in Section 1, but now we can put these
features into practice. First we'll use the Data tab to create a new connection (this assumes
you've got a database already created):
Once we've connected to the database we can create a new table by selecting Tables and then
clicking the New Item button:
If you don't want to go through this process, you can use SQL scripts that are provided with the
code download to create the tables and stored procedures.
You'll need to create the following tables:
You'll also need to create the following stored procedures:
Although the stored procedure window appears to be just a simple text editor, it actually
validates the stored procedure as it saves it to SQL Server. However, it doesn't add any required
permissions (such as GRANT requests for particular users) so you'll have to add these yourself.
The exact form of these permissions will depend on your connection details, and what
permissions your user requires.
Creating User Controls
We're going to use two User Controls in our application. The first control is a simple banner at
the top of the page, which will contain an image and heading. The second control is for the
shopping basket. We'll use a User Control for the shopping basket as it will be used on several
pages, and encapsulates quite a lot of functionality.
You can create a User Control by selecting ASP.NET User Control from the New Item dialog.
Our first control is very simple, and we can simply drag some HTML controls onto the design
surface. The control comprises an HTML table that contains a single row and two columns,
inside which are an image and some text. There's no need to add any code:
The second User Control is our shopping basket, and since this control requires some database
functionality, we won't use the ASP.NET User Control template. Instead we'll use the Editable
Data Grid from the Data Pages section of the New Item dialog. Rename the extension of the
file to .ascx – we need to do this as we want the shopping basket to be an editable grid. Using
the correct template and extension means that Web Matrix generates lots of useful code for us.
The following default page is created:
Web Matrix has created an editable grid, along with code that allows us to edit and save data.
For example, the following code is provided to allow updates:
Sub DataGrid_Update(Sender As Object, E As DataGridCommandEventArgs)
' update the database with the new values
' get the edit text boxes
Dim id As String = CType(e.Item.Cells(2).Controls(0), TextBox).Text
Dim lname As String = CType(e.Item.Cells(3).Controls(0), TextBox).Text
Dim fname As String = CType(e.Item.Cells(4).Controls(0), TextBox).Text
' TODO: update the Command value for your application
Dim myConnection As New SqlConnection(ConnectionString)
Dim UpdateCommand As SqlCommand = new SqlCommand()
UpdateCommand.Connection = myConnection
If AddingNew = True Then
UpdateCommand.CommandText = "INSERT INTO authors(au _id, " & _
"au_lname, au_fname, contract) " & _
"VALUES (@au_id, @au_lname, @au_fname, 0)"
UpdateCommand.CommandText = "UPDATE authors " & _
"SET au_lname = @au_lname, au_fname = @au_fname " & _
"WHERE au_id = @au_id"

End If
UpdateCommand.Parameters.Add("@au_id", SqlDbType.VarChar, 11).Value = id
UpdateCommand.Parameters.Add("@au_lname", SqlDbType.VarChar, 40).Value _
= lname
UpdateCommand.Parameters.Add("@au_fname", SqlDbType.VarChar, 20).Value _
= fname
' execute the command
Catch ex as Exception
Message.Text = ex.ToString()
End Try
' Resort the grid for new records
If AddingNew = True Then
DataGrid1.CurrentPageIndex = 0
AddingNew = false
End If
' rebind the grid
DataGrid1.EditItemIndex = -1
End Sub
This code uses the pubs database as its template, and includes a connection string at the top of
the page. All we have to do to use this code in our own example is to change a few details to
match our database.
You might prefer to take out much of this data access code and replace it with calls to a data
layer that performs this functionality for you. If this is something you'll be doing a lot of, then
it's worth creating your own templates that suit your style of coding. We'll see how to create our
own templates is covered in Section 3.
Modifying the Code
There's not much to do in order to modify the standard template code to work with our own
data. We need to modify the connection string and SELECT statement used to fetch the data.
Both of these are found at the top of the page:
Dim ConnectionString As String = "server=(local);database=pubs;Integrated Security=SSPI"
Dim SelectCommand As String = "SELECT au_id, au_lname, au_fname from Authors"
We also need to modify three event handlers:



Let's look at the sort of changes you'll often have to make to these methods. After that, we'll
look at the specific changes we need to make for our example application.
The following modifications need to be made to the DataGrid_Update method:
' get the edit text boxes
Dim id As String = CType(e.Item.Cells(2).Controls(0), TextBox).Text
Dim lname As String = CType(e.Item.Cells(3).Controls(0), TextBox).Text
Dim fname As String = CType(e.Item.Cells(4).Controls(0), TextBox).Text
This event handler is called when a row is updated, and the DataGridCommandEventArgs
object passed into the method points to the row being updated. The data is fetched out of the
cells into variables – you'll need to modify these lines to pick your data out of the grid. The first
two columns are the edit and delete columns, which is why the data starts at the third column
(the Cells collection is zero-based).
Next we need to set the command text:
' TODO: update the Command value for your application
Dim myConnection As New SqlConnection(ConnectionString)
Dim UpdateCommand As SqlCommand = new SqlCommand()
UpdateCommand.Connection = myConnection
If AddingNew = True Then
UpdateCommand.CommandText = "INSERT INTO authors(au _id, " & _
"au_lname, au_fname, contract) " & _
"VALUES (@au_id, @au_lname, @au_fname, 0)"
UpdateCommand.CommandText = "UPDATE authors " & _
"SET au_lname = @au_lname, au_fname = @au_fname " & _
"WHERE au_id = @au_id"
End If
Again this will need modifying to match your data. Alternatively, you could set the
CommandText property of the command to the name of a stored procedure, and the
CommandType to CommandType.StoredProcedure.
Next are the parameters for the command. These also need modifying:
UpdateCommand.Parameters.Add("@au_id", SqlDbType.VarChar, 11).Value = id
UpdateCommand.Parameters.Add("@au_lname", SqlDbType.VarChar, 40).Value _
= lname
UpdateCommand.Parameters.Add("@au_fname", SqlDbType.VarChar, 20).Value _
= fname
The rest of the procedure remains the same.
For DataGrid_Delete all we have to do is change the command that performs the deletion:
Dim DeleteCommand As New SqlCommand("DELETE from authors where au _id='" & _
keyValue & "'", myConnection)
Like the update this could also be changed to call a stored procedure, as long as the
CommandType was set correctly to CommandType.StoredProcedure.
For additions the code creates a new array of data that is inserted into the table:
' add a new blank row to the end of the data
Dim rowValues As Object() = {"", "", ""}
In this code the new values (three of them) are strings, so empty strings are used. You'll have to
add objects of the correct type that match the type defined in the columns of the table.
Modifying Our User Control
For our control, we simply persist the shopping basket details in a DataTable in the Session,
so all of the database access code can be removed. For example, the grid update routine is now:
Sub DataGrid_Update(Sender As Object, E As DataGridCommandEventArgs)
' get the edit text boxes
Dim id As Integer =
Dim qty As String = CType(e.Item.Cells(1).Controls(0), TextBox).Text
ChangeQuantity(id, qty)
' rebind the grid
ShoppingBasket.EditItemIndex = -1
End Sub
The other data functions are also modified to use methods that manipulate the shopping basket
items. These methods have been made public so that they can be called from the page that hosts
the user control. We won't go into the detail of all of these methods, since they are fairly easy to
understand, and aren't Web Matrix-specific.
One thing that is worth mentioning is a property for the basket we create:
Public WriteOnly Property ViewMode As Boolean
If Value = True Then
btnClear.Visible = False
Dim cols As Integer = ShoppingBasket.Columns.Count
ShoppingBasket.Columns(cols-1).Visible = False
ShoppingBasket.Columns(cols-2).Visible = False
End If
End Set
End Property
The setter for this property turns the editable grid into a read-only grid. It does this by making
the edit column, the delete column, and the clear button invisible. Our User Control can now
be used on multiple pages in both editable and non-editable modes.
We now have a fully functional shopping basket that can be dropped onto other pages.
The Main Page
Although our main default page will display data, the data templates provided by Web Matrix
all produce grids, and we want a combination of different data controls. So, we'll start with a
blank ASP.NET page instead. Once we've added a few controls the page looks like this:
There's a combination of quite a few controls here. At the top of the page we have the User
Control we created earlier that represents the banner. Web Matrix doesn't provide design-time
support for these sorts of controls, and there's no way to drag them onto the design surface. To
add them to a page we have to use the All view, so that we can add both the @Register
directive and the control:
<%@ Register TagPrefix="ppq" TagName="Banner" Src="Banner.ascx" %>
<ppq:banner id="UserControl1" runat="server"></ppq:banner>
We need to repeat the process for the shopping basket:
<%@ Register TagPrefix="ppq" TagName="ShoppingBasket"
Src="ShoppingBasket.ascx" %>
<ppq:ShoppingBasket id="ShoppingBasket" runat="server">
If you switch back into Design view then you'll see that the user controls are displayed as gray
You can add the text and labels to the page simply by dragging and dropping them from the
Toolbox. Then you can set their properties as required. Web Matrix contains a formatting
toolbar, so you don't even have to remember what any of the formatting attributes are:
For the actual data, we want to show three things:

The selection of pizzas

What sizes they come in

Available drinks
Each of these requires a different data control: the pizzas will be displayed using a DataGrid,
the sizes using a RadioButtonList, and the drinks using a Repeater with custom content. In
order to format them nicely the controls are contained within an HTML table. Dragging a table
onto the design surface provides, by default, a table that has three rows and three columns, so
we need to edit the code in HTML view in order to delete two of the rows.
So that we can display the selection of pizzas, we drag a DataGrid into the first cell of the
The Auto Format and the Property Builder links, found at the bottom of the Properties panel,
can be used to format and customize the DataGrid:
These links provide access to the same builders that Visual Studio .NET uses. The Auto Format
builder allows us to pick a visual style; the designer will set the style properties of the grid for
The Property Builder allows us, among other things, to set the column details:
Here we've stated that we don't want the columns automatically generated, and we've added
two TemplateColumns. Closing the dialog and switching to HTML view allows us to see what
this has done:
<asp:DataGrid id="DataGrid1" runat="server" BorderStyle="None"
BorderWidth="1px" BorderColor="#CC9966" BackColor="White"
CellPadding="4" AutoGenerateColumns="False">
<FooterStyle forecolor="#330099" backcolor="#FFFFCC"></FooterStyle>
<HeaderStyle font-bold="True" forecolor="#FFFFCC" backcolor="#990000">
<PagerStyle horizontalalign="Center" forecolor="#330099"
<SelectedItemStyle font-bold="True" forecolor="#663399"
<ItemStyle forecolor="#330099" backcolor="White"></ItemStyle>
Now we can add our details into the template columns. There are two ways of doing this. The
first is by simply switching to HTML view and typing in the details:
<asp:ImageButton CommandName="Select"
ImageURL="images/slice.gif" height="40" width="40"
CausesValidation="false" runat="server"/>
<b><asp:Label id="pizza"
Text='<%# DataBinder.Eval(Container.DataItem, "name") %>'
<%# DataBinder.Eval(Container.DataItem, "description") %><br/>
<%# DataBinder.Eval(Container.DataItem, "ingredients") %>
The first column is an image button, which acts as our selected method. The second column